I have been meaning to write this email for a awhile and now have the time to do so. I am deeply concerned about the direction of pricing for Thumbtack leads and the overall lead cost.
Before I get to the meat of my email, I want to give you my background so that you understand that I am not just spouting, I understand marketing and business. I served 23 years in the Air Force and of that, 16 years in Air Force Recruiting from recruiter all the way up Senior Management positions. Which means I have 16 years in sales, marketing, training, planning and media. I know a business needs money which fuels the success. I know how to market, how to strategize, how to look at the 30-day, 60 day and 90 day windows to plan what will be done today. Along with the last 4 years building my current business involving everything listed above. So, what I say next is meant to help me, you and other Pros.
Just in the past month I have had direct requests for work and have replied only to either get a message back saying they will be in touch if they decide to move forward or something similar or no reply at all. In the past I would not care but in just three leads I lost $150.00. Those same three leads would have been less than $30 two years, even maybe a year ago.
Now I'm lucky in the fact I have work lined up and have built a base of repeat customers but what about the guy just starting out? There is no way they can afford to pay that much for leads that don't pan out. There has to be a better way. You built your success on your Pros and now it seems like you are taking advantage of us. I am very thankful for the help from Thumbtack when I just started out and if I had not been able to build up my business, with the cost of these leads I would be out of business. There has to be a better way. Such as for example charging us if the customer contacts us to meet instead of having us send a reply and get charged and nothing happens which I also have had happen several times. I have paid roughly $300 to bid and get nothing for 7-8 leads. Check my history.
Now before you say we need to sell ourselves in the Thumbtack reply, I do that along with my profile being reviewed. If I get the chance to sell myself and don't get the job, that is on me. But paying a large fee to give an estimate through Thumbtack and then it’s up to the customer to contact me is a failing business model. I guess what I am saying is that there has to be an extra step in there somewhere that allows us to give an estimate and not get charged or maybe just a small fee for estimating only and if we get hired then a fee at that point.
What it all comes down to is 3 years ago Pros could bid on jobs for as little as $3 or $4. Now those same Pros are bidding the same jobs for $20, $30, $75! You have to see that jump and how it will impact the very Pros that you built your success on.
Also, because I have worked lined up into November right now, I can't take on anymore work until the summer unless people will wait. This is a good thing. However, I am getting 8-10 requests each week that I have to decline, with no fee, which makes me and other Pros look bad because we can't give an explanation why and will eventually cause a downturn in business. The only option would be to pay the lead cost just to send a response. Surely you see that is not viable. We could use the “Tell us why”, which I do, but that is very impersonal and being personal is a huge part of the business I have built and leads to future success.
Now if this current pricing model was to increase profits, I am sure it will, in the short term, but as it starts costing Pros more for leads, I can tell you they will not use Thumbtack, which means your profits drop. If you make it less expensive to bid, I know I will hang around but with the current structure its almost not feasible. When I first started with Thumbtack the lead cost was low and very manageable, now looking at lead costs you compare to Home Advisor among others and it almost makes sense to switch to them. I have not gone to Homeadvisor because of cost, now I am considering it.
Lastly, we have no idea how much we have paid for the leads until after we have been charged. This has to stop! It’s just a crappy way to run things because you don’t provide all the information us to make a calculated decision on whether to bid or not. In my opinion you guys have gone WAY of the tracks of what made YOU successful and I am sure part of it is investors want more profits. In order for that to last you need to keep bringing Pros in and at these prices it just won’t happen.
In the end you will probably attribute this email to the rantings of an unhappy Pro. When in fact without Thumbtack I would not be where I am today, and I am keenly aware of that. I’m Brian Cotter and I own Big Blue Handyman and Carpentry and I was one of the people you flew out there last year to the conference you had. I believe in what Thumbtack can do but the pricing and bidding process needs to be looked at HARD!
I tell folks looking for Pros to go to Thumbtack and fellow Pros to get a Thumbtack account but now I may have to rethink my recommendations. If it can’t be made financially viable for Pros, it will not last. It just feels like corporate greed has taken over once again.
If you would like to reply, please feel free but do not give me the I have to “sell myself speech”. The pure and simple fact is it’s costing me way too much money for a potential lead and something has to be done. I just find it very hard to believe that you needed to increase profits 1000% to be profitable.
Thanks for reading and I hope this leads to something better for Pros!
I have to agree that the cost of leads are getting ridiculous, and you get nothing for it. We pay a premium price for the lead and respond to the customer request and nothing. We should at least get a phone number of the lead, Angie's List and Home Advisor provide phone numbers, why not Thumbtack?
The thing Thumbtack needs to understand is the contractor is their true customer, we pay the bills, not the homeowner! The contractor has every right to try and successfully get the job from the lead, that we pay for, but Thumbtack has our hands tied and is limiting our chances of turning the lead into a job by not giving us contact information.
First, thank you for your service!!
I hear you and truly understand your frustration, and agree with everything that you said! @MarcoZ had a Thanksgiving thread. Many Pros gave their comments, complaints, suggestions, but I doubt we will ever hear from him.
I'm also lucky to have work lined up through June from using the old system,(tried explaining to them how the old system works for me) but after that, my calendar isn't full. By this time of year, my calendar should have been full or almost full.
@Bigblue we understand the frustration behind costs, and I want you to know that prices are constantly be re-evaluated. I want to send your concerns on as feedback to our product team, however, we do need a few more details. How much do you think would be a reasonable amount for leads for your service in your area? Any additional details or suggestions you have are very appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you!
This is really getting under my skin. Why am I charged for a customer asking for my prices when my prices are on my profile. Better yet, they don’t even view my response to them.